With people arriving from a variety of destinations, we convened in the hotel bar on Thursday evening for a celebratory glass of Tio Pepe Fino and part one of the sherry story. A short walk took us to La Cruz Blanca restaurant. A riotous evening ensued with the restaurant delivering a superb selection of starters comprising wonderful hams and cheese, oxtail croquetas, scrambled eggs with mushroom and jamon, a creamy snapper fish pate and a tostada with goats cheese and marmalade. Phew! Most people were full at this point but main course was a choice between black rice with prawns or cod followed by a selection of desserts. This was all washed down with some local chardonnay and Garum from Luis Perez who we visit on Friday.
Friday greeted us with cobalt blue skies and warm sunshine as we took the short drive from the hotel to Valdespino. This historic Sherry house is now owned by Grupo Estevez which has maintained and developed the Valdespino brand into one of exceptional quality. The facilities on the outskirts of Jerez are amazing as they have recreated the historic old bodega in a more modern building. We viewed the piano room with much memorabilia and photos, the library of labels, the art museum filled with Picasso prints, the horses and the fabulously huge cellar.
Pilar from the export office was engaging and answered all the pressing sherry related questions in great detail. In the Sacristy where they age some their oldest barrels we tasted Manzanilla, Amontillado, Oloroso, Cream and Pedro Ximenez sherries which gave the perfect insight into the range.
From Valdespino it was a 20 minute hop to Vina Luis Perez. Set up in 2002, Luis Perez is a renowned oenology professor who used to work for Domecq. He strongly believed in the potential of red wine production in the area and planted Merlot, Syrah, Cab Sauv, the local Tintilla Rota as well as number of other experimental vines. Despite meeting much local resistance they persevered and now manage to sell the majority of their 170,000 bottle production in the local area. The property is called Vistahermosa – beautiful view, and it commands a stunning position from which you can see Cadiz.
Roberto took us round and was highly entertaining with great insights into the history of the region, the family story and all aspects of the winery. We tasted grapes from a number of the experimental vines and enjoyed the sunshine and views.
In the beautiful old farmhouse, we at and tasted the Palomoino Blanco, El Triangulo (made from Tintilla), Garum, Samaruco (both made from blends) and their stunning 100% Petit Verdot. All the wines were accompanied by a delicious selection of tapas that left us full but still open to the prospect of dinner…..